Several weeks after the rage of getting conned by a con man faded from the front of my brain, I met Mr. Roy. He was a nice, white-haired gentleman who worked the sign-in table at my voting precinct. I’d heard Martin say on many occasions he had to go see Mr. Roy to get paid for some task he’d helped him with or that Mr. Roy was letting him store his tools in his shop or some other guano. When my wife nudged me and told me who it was, I struck up a brief conversation with him about Martin. He responded with a blasé attitude and wasn’t too interested in getting involved with anything Martin related. So, I voted and left feeling let-down. I couldn’t understand why anyone who knew Martin wouldn’t want to gab about what a road apple he was.
Just as I was about to call it a week at work and head out for the weekend, I got a call from the Warren County DA’s office in regard to a 3-year old case against a homeless guy to whom we’d given some food, but not Martin. Martin stole my lawnmower. This guy stole a Honda scooter from my garage. The case has dragged out for numerous reasons and been nothing but a nagging irritation to me up to this point.
Shortly after the blessing of the balls and Martin’s mother’s funeral, he showed up and started working off the money I’d given him by mowing my grass that he’d been neglecting. Being the resourceful chap that he was, he also started using my lawnmower to cut other yards up and down the street. A few days after starting his new business, he even asked me if it was OK that he was using my lawn equipment. Even though it was a little out of sequence, I had no problem with the deal. I figured it was a way that I could help him out without it costing me more than a gallon of gas every so often.
Over the next few days, Martin’s attitude seemed to improve in spite of his mother’s death, and we assumed that someone must have put up the money to get his mother’s body released to the funeral home. He didn`t come by to attempt to chip away at the pile of work we`d paid him to do that he hadn’t done, but he called regularly to give us updates of his whereabouts and daily activities. However, we didn’t mind his scarcity because a tornado of restless energy tagged along with him whenever he came around, and I think we were exhausted just from his awareness that we were alive.
After a few weeks, I was running short on extra cash to help Martin secure food, a place to stay, or crack. So, I told him I couldn’t give him any more money, but I would help him get in touch with some agencies who could possibly give him assistance to secure a job and a place to live. Since I was under the impression he was a medically discharged veteran, I contacted a few organizations that could be of assistance to him, told them his story as I understood it, and they all sounded very willing to help him. He just needed to contact them and give them a copy of his DD214 discharge paper to get the process started.
Over the next few days, Martin’s work product decreased as his personal problems increased. He showed up daily asking for advanced payments for work he promised to complete the next day. He told my wife and me stories of his hardships and we both felt really bad for him.
That Sunday morning, I was sitting at the kitchen counter grazing while watching American Ninja Warrior and critiquing the performances of the losers. I paid little attention to the knock at the front door until one of the kids called my name and told me there was somebody there to see me. As I passed him on the way to the door he whispered there was a short black guy on the front porch, and I couldn’t imagine who it could be. Continue reading
One night in late spring 2015, my buddy John and I were sitting on my front porch talking while the womenfolk were inside probably swapping recipes and churning butter or drinking wine. Who knows… Anyway, John and I were solving some social injustice or reliving his glory days on the gridiron as we were prone to do when he and his sweeter than sorghum wife Robyn came for a visit. Then, a man who would greatly affect my outlook on charity emerged from the darkness.